Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tough love

Learn to be white in a just a few years! It's easy!

As if the LDS Church's quest for spiritual and cultural domination over the earth weren't enough to make to make me doubt, finding out about the Indian Placement Program and electroshock conversion therapy use on homosexuals at BYU certainly brought to mind some fresh thoughts about what Christ-like love ought to look like. The justifications for keeping First Nations children physically distant from their families in order to culturally distance them from their traditions point nowhere near the love and acceptance one might expect from Jesus. Likewise the use of physical and psychological torture to reform homosexuals points nowhere near Christ-like behavior. These are two programs (the IPP admittedly much bigger than McBride's experiments) that have to cause members to scramble for answers. How can these sorts of things be inspired? How offensive is it that Mormons expect First Nations people to turn off their identity? Why do Mormons think homosexuals can do it? How can they be justified in the name of a loving god? How is it that the LDS Church and BYU have not apologized for these damaging programs?

Turning off the gay was supposed to be as easy as hitting the lights!

UPDATE: A Mormon Stories episode on the Indian Placement Program has just been added (4/4/14). Listen to it here.


  1. The placement program was voluntary. If you listened to the program, you know that conditions on the reservation were often deplorable--little health care, grinding poverty. Don't romanticize those things. The alternative to the placement program was often terrible BIA boarding schools. Especially at the end of the interview (but really throughout), it is clear that this program was at worst, a mixed bag. Young people voluntarily left the Res for placement in those days seeking better opportunities for themselves, and parents enrolled their children to give them opportunities they could never have had on the reservation. The families who received placement students often sacrificed a lot to support their foster children, in some cases even sending them to college at foster family expense. It was not a small thing to bear the expense of supporting someone else's child. And the Church expended a lot of resources to support the children in the the program. I saw much of this first hand, as a missionary, as a foster brother to a placement child, as one who learned Navaho and visited countless Navaho homes on the reservation, as a resident of George P. Lee's home when he was called as a General Authority. Your summary really doesn't do justice to the mix of costs and benefits that flowed from the placement program. Certainly, the motivation was a sincere effort to help people who were very often living in desperate circumstances in shacks and mud huts. And some it greatly helped. Others clearly weren't helped by the program. For certain, the effort to help was largely motivated by sincerel love of these people.

    1. You're right, it is very clear in both the Mormon Stories podcast and the NPR story that the program wasn't just one thing or another and the results were mixed with varying degrees of positive and negative outcomes. What I question here are the aims of the Church with this program. In my mind it comes across as an attempt to steal away First Nation children and convert them to Mormonism. In other words, the primary purpose of the program was self-serving and the benefits enjoyed by participants in the program were secondary. I believe there are many other options to improve the lives of First Nation peoples besides hauling off their kids and telling them to no longer participate in their evil Lamanite traditions. I find it interesting that after a child had spent about 4 years in the program to reap any benefits from it and had to leave by 8 years in order to avoid more detrimental side effects. I guess there's such thing as too much of a questionable thing.